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Tag:Butler Bulldogs
Posted on: April 5, 2010 3:00 pm

More than one shining moment

I've never given serendipity much thought, but that's changed over the past few weeks -- and, especially, heading into tonight's NCAA title game -- as I've watched the exhilarating run of the Butler Bulldogs.

Last December, heading for the baseball winter meetings, I flew into Indianapolis a day early to meet one of my oldest and best friends for dinner. It was a Saturday, and I had checked the basketball schedule and, sure enough, Butler was playing at home. So I suggested to my buddy after dinner that we go check out Hinkle Fieldhouse.

See, my parents went to Butler. They met there. By the time I came along, they had moved to Michigan, but all these years, I've heard all sorts of things about the classic and legendary 82-year-old Hinkle Fieldhouse. And, of course, I'd seen the famous scene in Hoosiers that was filmed in Hinkle a number of times. But I had never been there.

We got to Hinkle at halftime of the Valparaiso game that December evening, got inside and watched the second half. What a cool, cool place. I took in as much of the fieldhouse as the game. Which basket did Gene Hackman measure in the movie? How many times were my parents in this place all those years ago? It was like a museum come to life.

On the way out, I did some Christmas shopping, picking up a navy blue hoodie sweatshirt for my hoops-loving father (hey, he grew up in Indiana, what else would you expect?) with the Bulldog mascot and the words "Butler Basketball."

So now we come to March (well, actually, today, April). I've been hearing about this team from my father all winter. I've watched a handful of their games on television because, well, hey. It's family. I haven't seen my father this excited over something in I don't know how long. My mom's pretty excited, too. She's just keeping it together a little better.

The phone calls between me, them and my brother have been bouncing back and forth these past few weeks, especially on game days. The Kansas State game, Butler was leading the entire way until the Wildcats took the lead with about five minutes left. At that point, I'm told, my dad couldn't take it anymore. He was watching with my brother, and my dad left the house to go for a walk, he was so nervous. He came back with two minutes left and the Bulldogs had regained the lead.

An old high school varsity basketball coach, some of my dad's superstitions from those days have returned. I'm told something about even a certain pair of underwear being lucky and worn on game days. I don't know. I'm not asking too much about that.

But I do know that it's been a great run and a ton of fun. First thing I did when Butler knocked off Kansas State to secure a Final Four berth was have a Butler Final Four T-shirt overnighted to my father. Next thing I did was move Hoosiers up to the top slot in my Netflix queue.

So last Thursday night, after I got home from spring training, I made my 12-year-old daughter and my wife sit down and watch Hoosiers with me. I was pleased that my daughter enjoyed it and was touched, rather than giving me the old, "Dad, it's old" routine.

I also know that while I'm working the baseball games today, my father will be off teaching a journalism class at the nearby college he's taught at this year, and he's vowed to teach today's class in what's become his game-day garb: The Butler hoodie, the lucky T-shirt he wears under it, jeans and, hell, I don't know, I'm guessing the lucky underwear, too. Then he'll race home to get ready for the game.

I don't know if Butler will beat Duke. I do know it will be one of the greatest tournament stories ever if it happens.

Anyway, as the title game approaches, I think back over this winter, and what incredible timing to see Hinkle Fieldhouse for the first time, Christmas shop for my dad there ... and then be able to share this whole tournament run with my parents and my brother.

And I know tonight, I'll veer away from baseball for a couple of hours for one of the last times until November, and the phone calls will be flying, the hearts will be pounding and one more game will shrink the miles between my family. Again.

Go Dawgs.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 27, 2010 8:27 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2010 9:10 pm

Giants torrid spring a harbinger of 2010?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- By Memorial Day, spring training records often take on the same meaning as yesterday's newspaper, your old report cards and the snow shovel sitting in your garage.

So here are the San Francisco Giants, who are headed toward 2010 with great pitching and questions surrounding their ability to score runs, absolutely ripping it up in Cactus League play.

Though they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Angels on Saturday, the Giants own the best spring record in the majors at 19-8, a .730 winning percentage. They're half-a-game ahead of Cleveland (16-6) in the Cactus League.

Does this mean the Giants maybe have a leg up on positively answering some of their questions? Leadoff man Aaron Rowand, for example, is hitting .474 with a .771 slugging percentage and a .543 on-base percentage. He is a huge key to what the Giants need to do this summer.

Or, perhaps, does it mean that all these spring wins and $4 will get Giants manager Bruce Bochy a latte at Starbucks?

"It's hard to quantify how you look at wins and losses in spring training," says Bochy, in his 16th spring as manager. "A lot of kids are playing.

"But I'll say this: No matter where you're at or what you're doing, it's nice to win."

With the caveat that it is dangerous to buy into spring numbers too deeply, these are among the Giants' spring highlights:

Todd Wellemeyer's 3-0 record and 1.35 ERA. He's pretty much nailed down the fifth spot in the Giants' rotation.

Young right-hander Kevin Pucetas has opened eyes in going 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA over 14 innings.

Top prospect Buster Posey is making a run toward the opening day roster even though Bengie Molina has the catching spot locked down by hitting .415 with a .442 OBP in 17 games. The Giants are talking about spotting him in at first base and catcher.

Outfielder John Bowker is forcing the playing-time issue with four homers, 18 RBI and 34 total bases in 20 games (57 at-bats).

Newcomer Aubrey Huff: 3 homers, 12 RBI, a .438 on-base percentage and a .357 batting average.

"He hits the s--- out of the ball," two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum marvels.

"It can build confidence in a club," Bochy says of winning in the spring. "We certainly want to be in winning mode, whether it's spring training or the regular season."

So far, so good with that.

Sunblock Day: Lots of sun Saturday, but very windy in the desert. Temps in the high 60s to low 70s.

Likes: Butler to the Final Four! Butler to the Final Four! My Indiana-born parents went to Butler They met at Butler. My poor dad was sweating out the win over Kansas State so badly he had to leave my brother's house and take a walk when K-State took the lead late in the second half. He came back with 2:00 left and Butler back ahead. He's been living and dying with the Bulldogs from afar all season. If there will be a Final Four moment that's more chilling than when Butler takes the court in Indianapolis for its semi-final game, I can't wait to see it.

Likes II: The Bruce Springsteen mix CD playing as the Giants hit before Friday's Cactus League game against the Angels. Who made the CD? Giants bench coach Ron Wotus. Very impressive. ... Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery, a musician himself, loved Crazy Heart so much he's seen it three times. ... How about that Kansas State-Xavier game Thursday night? You will not see a better college basketball game. It's rare that you know you're watching a classic at the time it's happening, and that definitely was one of them. What a great, great NCAA tournament this year.

Dislikes: Hate to see veteran Doug Mientkiewicz leave Dodgers camp Saturday to think about things after being told he probably won't make the club. He's a terrific person, and I know he wants to keep playing. We talked the other day and his issue with playing Triple-A is, he's fine with it -- if it's in a place where he thinks he'll get a reasonable opportunity to play in the majors. With the Dodgers, with James Loney at first and the versatile Ronnie Belliard on the roster, and with lefty Garrett Anderson probably on the roster as a pinch-hitter, it doesn't look like he'll get that.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Rock and roll means well
"But it can't help telling young boys lies"

-- Drive-By Truckers, Marry Me

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or